Latin Cuisine- Week 5

Sunday, May 8, 2011

We were still in South America this week for Latin. We had an extremely short menu this week. One of the things we were focusing on was preparing the Ceviche de Pescado (Fish Ceviche.)

Ceviche is a technique in which you "cook" a food using acid, such as lemon or orange juice, instead of heat. In some instances, you may partially cook the item in boiling water and then finish it off with the lemon juice, which has been the case with shrimp so far every time I have encountered this technique. Our team worked together to prepare the Ceviche so it would have the maximum amount of time in the "cooking" liquid. I learned two things at the end of this dish. First, the fish should have been cut into smaller cubes for the time we had in class. Our fish cooked ALMOST all the way through, but not completely. If they had been smaller pieces, we would have had more success. Second, the recipe called for 4 oz of lemon juice and 2 oz of lime juice. There are always plastic containers of lemon juice and usually lime juice on our staples cart. We used these instead of FRESH lemons and limes. When making Ceviche, we learned after the fact, you should ALWAYS use fresh. It makes a gigantic difference in the flavors.

Also prepared this week was Shredded Beef with Beans, White Rice, and Fried Plantains. I tackled the rice this week. In doing so, I learned something very important. If you have been following my blog at all, you will know that I can cook rice perfectly if I am cooking it as needed. If I have had to hold it for service, however, I was not doing so well. Since rice is such a huge part of Latin food, I had a feeling Chef Heidi could help me. I admitted, embarrassed, that I had yet to fully successfully hold rice, and if she had any tricks for me. Oh my goodness! It's SO EASY. Chef taught me to cook the rice to where you need it to be, then place it in a bain marie covered in plastic wrap, place it in a hotel pan that has WARM water running into it. It hold it at a temperature where it's warm, but it isn't so warm that it is continuing to cook! Amazing!!! So my rice came out perfectly. The beef and beans were well prepared and hearty, and I never really like fried plantains unless they are sliced extremely thin and more like chips.


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